Dallas Cowboys: manti te'o

NFC East draft analysis

April, 29, 2013
4/29/13
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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The draft started off heavy in the NFC East, as the three teams with first-round picks this year used them on offensive linemen. And while there were a few little surprises and treats along the way, it never really got hot. All four of the division's teams had workmanlike drafts that balanced need and value and didn't stray into any of the juicy storylines. No Manti Te'o, Geno Smith or Tyrann Mathieu for us.

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Chuck Cooperstein, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the Cowboys' draft picks and who was influencing Jerry Jones' decisions.

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There was a trade-down in the first round, as the Dallas Cowboys moved out of a No. 18 spot they didn't like and still managed to get their first-round offensive lineman, while adding a third-rounder to the mix. There were two trade-ups in the fourth round, as the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants maneuvered to add quarterbacks in surprising moves. And there were the Washington Redskins, without a first-rounder but fine with it because they have Robert Griffin III, who waited it out and got two talented safeties in the late rounds for a secondary that needs rebuilding.

We'll be breaking this all down for days and weeks and months, but here's a quick early look at the way the 2013 draft went in the NFC East.

BEST MOVE

In the absence of any earth-shaking moves in the early rounds by NFC East teams, I'm going to have to go with the Eagles taking tackle Lane Johnson at No. 4. They probably could have traded down and out of the pick, but this was a draft in which six offensive linemen went in the first 11 picks, and the value of the third-best tackle with the fourth pick was worth hanging in there. After what happened to their offensive line with injuries in 2012, the Eagles were wise to load up there, taking an athletic player who can start at right tackle right away and maybe move to left tackle down the road once Jason Peters is done. It also helps that Johnson is the kind of lineman who can move. If Chip Kelly plans to run a lot of read-option, or even a lot of bubble screens, Johnson's ability to get out and block at the second level is going to be a big help.

Also considered: The Eagles' trade-up for quarterback Matt Barkley at the top of the fourth round. ... The Redskins' getting two quality safeties in the fourth and sixth rounds in Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. ... The Cowboys trading down in the first round and getting wide receiver Terrance Williams with the third-round pick they added in that deal.

RISKIEST MOVE

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Thomas Campbell/US PresswireDamontre Moore put up impressive numbers at Texas A&M, but he has to disspell concerns over his work ethic and attitude at the next level.
There weren't any real big risks taken by NFC East teams with their most valuable picks in the first and second rounds, I didn't think. So I'm going with defensive end Damontre Moore, who went to the Giants in the third round. Moore is a big-time talent with big-time production numbers in college -- 12.5 sacks last year, 26.5 over the past three. But there are good reasons a player as good as he is was still there at pick No. 81, and in Moore's case those reasons include a marijuana bust and a reputation as a young man who struggles with attitude and work ethic.

Now, Moore is just 20 years old, and it's wrong to assume anyone that age will always be what he has been so far. But Moore is the player from this draft whose job it is to bolster the future of the Giants' pass rush with Osi Umenyiora gone and Justin Tuck aging. If he's a solid citizen and produces the way he did at Texas A&M, he's going to be a steal. If he's an attitude case who doesn't take to coaching and causes problems, the Giants are going to have to keep looking for long-term solutions at defensive end in the next several drafts. A third-round pick isn't too much to risk on a player with Moore's potential, but it's a pick with which the Giants could have found help elsewhere. So if he does flop, they will regret it.

MOST SURPRISING MOVE

The Eagles pulled the surprise of Day 3, moving up three spots to the top of the fourth round, where they selected USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Most analysts were convinced Kelly would seek a fast, athletic, running quarterback when he finally pulled the trigger on that position, but Barkley was a pro-style pocket passer at USC and doesn't fit the "system" everyone seems to be assuming Kelly is determined to run now that he's in the pros. As you know if you read this blog regularly, I think that's hogwash and that Kelly is smart enough to know that the best way to coach is to find talented players and figure out the best way to coach them -- not come wading in with your own "system" and only look for players who fit it.

Kelly knows Barkley from coaching against him in college, and Barkley is a guy who a year ago was thought of as a possible No. 1 overall pick. If 2012 was just a bad year for him and he ends up being a good NFL quarterback, nobody's going to care that he can't run the read-option. For a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick, which is what it cost the Eagles to move up and take him, it's a worthwhile risk. And it leaves Kelly with a lot of options at the most important position on his team as he begins his first offseason as an NFL coach.

The Giants pulled a surprise of their own later in the round, trading up six picks to select Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib to develop behind Eli Manning. The 32-year-old Manning hasn't missed a game since 2004, so it's unlikely Nassib sees the field anytime soon. But the Giants decided it was time to start thinking down the road at the position.

FILE IT AWAY

I liked the Cowboys' first round more than most people did, because I thought they absolutely needed to come out of that round with an offensive lineman, and they did. And while Travis Frederick may have been a reach at 31, reaching for an offensive lineman wasn't a bad move for this particular team in a draft in which eight offensive linemen went in the top 20 picks. They traded down from 18 and got the pick that netted Frederick and the third-round pick that netted wide receiver Terrance Williams, and they like that pair better than they liked what was available to them at 18.

But they won't have to look far to remember what might have been. The Giants took Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh at 19, which means the Cowboys could have stayed put and picked up a better-regarded lineman than Frederick (though, obviously, not also get Williams in the third). If Pugh turns out to be a great player for the Giants and Frederick flops in Dallas, the Cowboys could end up regretting the Day 1 trade-down in the long run.

W2W2: Draft Day 2 for the Cowboys

April, 26, 2013
4/26/13
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Here is a quick preview for Day 2 of the NFL draft.

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Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the first round of the NFL draft.

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What to expect: The Cowboys have the 47th (second), 74th and 83rd (third round) selections of the draft. Don't expect a trade at this stage of the draft because the Cowboys, who entered the draft with six draft picks, made a deal Thursday night to get the extra selection they wanted.

Needs: Defensive line, defensive back, wide receiver, running back and offensive line are positions of need. The Cowboys picked up a center in Travis Frederick with the 31st overall selection, but there are still positions that need to be filled. There's a possibility the Cowboys will try to get a defensive lineman with one of their three picks Friday night.

Mel Kiper’s best available prospects: LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame; RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama; QB Geno Smith, West Virginia; QB Matt Barkley, USC; S John Cyprien, FIU; TE Zach Ertz, Stanford; RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin; LB Kevin Minter, LSU; DT John Jenkins, Georgia; OT Menelik Watson, Florida St.

Cowboys best available: S Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse; WR Terrance Williams, Baylor; DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State; RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin; T Terron Armstead, Arkansas Pine-Bluff.

Day 1 recap: The Cowboys moved from No. 18 to No. 31 and also grabbed a second-round selection in a trade with San Francisco. The Cowboys bypassed several key players, including defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who went to Minnesota at No. 23. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Floyd didn't fit the Cowboys' 4-3 scheme. Also, the team had a chance to move up, but Jones said there were two players who they coveted and they were gone by the 10th pick of the first round.

Cowboys to meet with Manti Te'o, Marcus Lattimore

February, 23, 2013
2/23/13
10:41
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INDIANAPOLIS – In a draft that is not considered flashy by any stretch, the Cowboys are meeting with two of the more intriguing prospects for a variety reasons at the NFL scouting combine.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o will have a formal sit down with the Cowboys in Indianapolis, and the team held an informal meeting with South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, according to sources.

The meetings are nothing more than business as usual for the Cowboys – and every team at the combine – in an attempt to cover all of their bases before the April draft.

Te’o, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, will meet with the media on Saturday and will no doubt be pressed about an on-line relationship that proved to be a scam and became a national story. The Cowboys are not in need of a linebacker like Te’o with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter set to man the middle and weakside linebacker spots in the 4-3 scheme, but it’s important to do due diligence on all players.

And that’s the same for Lattimore.

Lattimore tore three ligaments in his right knee in a game last year, moving him from a likely first-round pick to a mid- to late-round pick. He tore his left anterior cruciate as a sophomore. He had major surgery in November, but reports are that he has made great strides and hopes to play in 2013.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team has a need at running back behind DeMarco Murray. Felix Jones is set to be a free agent and unlikely to return. Stephen Jones said he views Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner more as No. 3 backs. Given Murray’s inability to stay healthy his first two years, the Cowboys need a reliable No. 2.

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